The Highline was constructed in the 1930s, lifting freight traffic 30 feet in the air as a solution to the frequent accidents that occurred on 10th Avenue, better known as Death Avenue. However, a train hasn't run on its tracks in my lifetime and was even on the brink of demolition by developers. A few residents in the Highline neighborhood lobbied for its preservation as public open space and rallied a groundswell of support to save and fund its revitalization. Once founded as a public-private infrastructure project to improve the West Side, they understood its potential and fought to save it by re-imagining its use. Designs were determined to include a mix of sculpture, plant life, and open air cafes. On June 8, 2011, The Highline opened to the public as a transformed park.
At 5'2, a change of perspective is often necessary for inspiration. Along that 1.45 mile walk 30 feet in the air, trotting and talking along The Highline offeres a bit of serenity from the fray. Groups of friends on wooden loungers. Families having an afternoon snack at a cafe. Hipsters on the bleachers talking about their next project. Women posing on the steps as their boyfriends snap shots. Tourists reading the engraved plates on the sculptures. Urbanites looking for a respite from the hubbub of the city. Everyone comes for a different reason but then lingers for a few of the same.
In the February issue of Vogue, Anna Wintour, in her letter from the editor, writes "Being a New Yorker is a state of mind, not a matter of birth."
If New York debunks traditional caste and class (read: limitations), the city continually evokes the possibility of things that lie ahead. Those possibilities are at times better pieced together from an elevation. Eventually you have to come down from those heights and rejoin the rest of the world. Yet another pedestrian. Yet another traveler.
However, you are different when you come back down. You've distilled an idea you've been pondering for a time. You've mustered the courage to have that tough conversation with a boss. You've remembered why you do the work you do. You've resolved to believe again and save that relationship. So you walk amongst the crowd. Maybe smile at a stranger. Maybe yield to the confused tourist. Maybe detour through the public library or a park. You do something different from the norm because you can't do the same thing you always do and expect different results. You need to take a pause. You need to gain a new perspective by physically going to new heights and environments. Take thoughtful risks. Chance it. Surprise yourself. Be brave. Small respites over time lead to a life thoughtfully and beautifully enjoyed. Small acts of bravery and courage lead to a life of little regrets and rich stories. This afternoon, I nurse a can of Boddington's Pub Ale. To the possibility of things that lie ahead.
"Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do" - Alicia Keys